Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

UFOs and Thanksgiving

The other day, CNN featured a video of fine upstanding pillars-of-communities who join the ranks of those who have spotted UFOs.  One of them, an accomplished pilot, was asked why our exposure is so rare; why, if aliens are interested in us and visiting regularly, don’t they just come in and take over?  The answer offered was that this mature, thinking man is not sure they haven’t already done so!

If you have kids, you may suspect the truth of this possibility.  Sometimes the sensibilities and motivations of young folk seem alien indeed.  Where do they get their crazy ideas?  How is it that my 20-something son and his cohorts have ideas about economy, religion, lifestyle, and ambition that seem to be from outer space?  This example is only partly tongue-in-cheek; I admit to being entirely of two minds on the subject.  I don’t really think my son’s an alien, but then again ….

Considering the likelihood of life on other worlds seriously helps in putting your priorities in order.  If existence encompasses much more than the flotsam and jetsam of this planet – if beings and societies can flourish under completely different circumstances than we know – our standards of measure can change exponentially.   The range of possibilities explodes.  Material wealth, keeping up with the Joneses and the trends, and getting control over your personal empire all shrink to puny endeavors.  Racism, political domination, religious wars, partisan bickering, and the desperation of housewives suddenly become worthless wastes of time.  If we’re not alone in the Universe, we can finally perceive our Narcissism, and let it go.

Thanksgiving’s my most favorite celebration for many reasons.  This year, it works its wonders with special grace and power, I think, because of the economic trouble we’re experiencing.  When stripped of wealth and other indulgences, you can see more clearly the blessings all around, the ones you did not earn or create, the ones that are freely and naturally given.  Like thinking about visits from Martians, this year’s giving of thanks can open the mind and free the imagination – an unbeatable Return on Investment!

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Practicing delight

One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to enjoy things that previously used to delight you.  The healthy, natural way is to be susceptible to the charms of at least some things in life.  Something most people don’t consider, however, is that the capacity for delight – like intelligence – can be cultivated and enlarged.

As we reach adolescence and then adulthood, I believe each of us should exercise our ability to be delighted.  The seriousness of growing up and joining the business world would seem contrary to this directive, and indeed, for the most part, we do not encourage such lighthearted development.  And what we end up with is a paranoid, oppressed, and underproductive workforce. 

How is delight cultivated?  Practice, of course.  Such daily activities as focusing on the tiny things that please you, allowing yourself to dwell on any encounter you may have with beauty, taking the time to thoroughly appreciate a good meal, a thoughtful gesture, a clever solution; all these kinds of practices will increase your capacity for enjoyment.

We can dwell in bliss if we set our energies to it! 

Control

After discovering that my keyboard had stopped working this morning, and terribly worried about disappointed all two of my adoring readers, I find myself thinking about creativity and control.

In a way, developing creative business structures and creative personal viewpoints is an attempt to regain control over individual and social potentials, to become liberated from the shackles of fear and ignorance.  On the other hand, in the process of cultivating creativity, we become aware of the benefits of relinquishing control; we even willingly abdicate control so that we may become more open to possibilities.

How about this little anecdote from Australian creativity guru, Dr. Ken Hudson: 

“I once worked with a large bank and i thought the strategy session that i was facilitating was on the verge of a tremendous new direction when the leader stopped the session and wanted to know why i was allowing so much laughter in the room. What did you want me to do i asked? Curtail it was his reply. When I explained why i thought that was a bad idea he insisted. I left it to him to tell the group. As expected, all the creative energy was immediately sucked from the room.”

As with so many things in the creative life, it’s a delicate balance.  When we find ourselves grasping for control, we’ve tipped the scale.  When we feel at the mercy of outside forces, we’ve tipped it in the other direction. 

Creative rejects

I spent a good chunk of yesterday writing an article, and have now decided it’s unusable hogwash.  Don’t know what got into me, but those hours working on it were some kind of detour I took and now, having returned to the main road, I am rejecting the findings of that little side trip.

I’m not stressing over this.  It’s quite in the usual run of the creative life.  Though tuned in to manifesting something new, creativity very often leads to products that are useless.  As a drawing teacher once said, you only see the master works of the great artists, you don’t see the mountains of their practice pieces and rejected early attempts.

For that matter, becoming accustomed to making mistakes is an important part of creativity.  You have to learn that it’s perfectly ok to throw things away.  The tendency is to view created works as precious.  Parents are always hoarding every little scribble their child creates.  Much more to the point would be to teach children to earnestly practice the process, but not to be attached to the outcome.

Following this line of thought, you can see that the product of your creative effort is mostly a fringe benefit.  The reason you practice creativity is for the many blessings conferred by that practice in itself; it really has little to do with the tangible products that remain when practice subsides.

While in business such non-productive effort may seem wasteful, it’s not possible to cultivate creative thinking without a good deal of apparently useless by-product.  Business owners/managers do well to set up systems that allow for creative waste, knowing that the larger benefit of a highly creative workforce much more than compensates for false starts and misguided forays.

Questioning

At the end of our lunch yesterday, my friend apologized for doing all the talking during our time together.  I laughed, because it wasn’t her fault at all:  it was simply that I asked her a stream of questions as we ate.  I discovered this little trick many years ago and employ it regularly.  Why? 

1.  It’s fun.  I already know about me, I don’t know about the other, and asking lots of questions is how I manage to eek a lot of learning out of encounters and conversations. 

2.  It’s inspirational.  Not only do I gain bunches of new info, I also exercise my perceptive abilities and practice deep mining skills.  One learns to make questions increasingly evocative as the dialogue advances.

3.  It’s compassionate.  How often does anyone demonstrate sufficient interest in you to ask you a series of questions about yourself?  I think we very rarely question one another; we hardly ever talk at length about ourselves; the pressures of the business world seem to care nothing for our inner selves and we are dangerously repressed.

Asking questions is another core quality of the creative life, yet it’s something that our schooling and society have de-emphasized, very much to our collective peril.  I hope you’ll seize and run with the very next opportunity to grill someone compassionately.  You’ll benefit from the learning and they won’t know what hit them, but they’ll appreciate the catharsis nonetheless.

Love your limitations

Monday is a good day to consider the benefits of constraints.  Very often, a lack of creative effort is blamed on lack of resources.  I can’t be creative because I don’t have the materials, the software, the hi-tech capabilities, the cooperation of my staff.  I can’t listen to my inspirations, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the support, I don’t have the money.  I can’t take an interest in my creativity, I have to go to work.

Any of these excuses miss the mark, of course, because creativity thrives on constraints.  The more rules and givens that apply, the more readily creative solutions appear.  Neccessity, as you may have experienced, is the mother of invention. 

We see the constraints of the workaday world as binding on authentic self discovery and expression.  Yet such horrors as Monday morning are in reality our richest sources of possibility.   Consider the interface of your sleepy brain and Monday business; is there not a multitude of ideas from the awareness of that one reality?

Constraint is opportunity, from a creative point of view.  Take advantage of your limitations, for both fun and profit! 

Hiccups

Though significantly advanced in age, I never knew a foolproof method for getting rid of hiccups until recently.  Contracting a case of the hiccups always meant long and helpless minutes, unable to speak properly, an instant slave to the disability and incapable of any remedy except patience.  I’d tried the old standards – holding my breath, drinking from a glass upside down, exactly nine sips of water, the whole 9 yards.  Nothing worked with any reliability.

And then my sweetie introduced me to the miracle cure.  Exhale completely, and point the tips of your index fingers at one another, about a foot in front of your face.  Bring your fingertips as close togther as possible without touching, remaining in the exhale.  Gaze hard at your fingers until you’re forced to inhale again.  It works like magic.

Your creativity is a little like this, also.  It’s an ability you have that when consciously enacted brings seemingly magical solutions.  It is the greatest gift to humanity because it makes solutions possible where none seemed to exist. 

The feeling of helplessness is pervasive amongst Americans:  we rage against economic hardship, social prejudices, political inanities – but have no faith in our ability to impact these problems.  But the truth is that every one of us is capable of locating all desired solutions for ourselves.  And collectively, our creativity can provide all society’s solutions.  Just like the marvelous hiccup cure, solutions exist everywhere in all their glorious simplicity. 

Hand Dance for Inspiration

007.jpg006.jpg0051.jpgHere’s a fun little game to brighten up your Wednesday, a day that’s smack dab in the middle of everything and likely to be problematic.  You started the week full of optimism, but as realities take hold you experience doubts and worries.  Are you really up to the challenge, will you be successful, will others let you down, will you end up looking the fool? 

To maintain a strong confidence, sometimes it’s helpful to dip back in to that foundational wellspring of idea that is the ultimate truth about you.  Here’s an easy way to do that.

As you sit at your desk, make a small, repetitive movement with one hand.  Practice til you remember the movement.  Then make another small movement, and practice it.  Add it to your first movement and practice the sequence.  Then do the same process a third time.  You end up with a little hand dance.  Consider the dynamic and characteristics of your dance.  What is it telling you about your state of being right now?  As you watch your hand dance, what images or rhythms or ideas occur to you?

Let your Self speak to your self this way and you will gain information, confidence and delight.  It’s a great way to detach from your worries, and charge up your enthusiasm!

Allowing First Thoughts

Student in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopAnother daily creativity practice is that of allowing.  This mostly pertains to allowing your own thoughts and ideas.  Though many may think this is idiotically simple, the fact is that we automatically censor 99% of our impulses.   Why?  Because of learned fears and our desperate need to be accepted. Student in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshop

After decades of what I thought was relatively open-minded living, I encountered a series of classes about ten years ago that revealed to me the heavy chains I regularly applied to my own thoughts.  The secret was in learning a discipline with which I was totally unfamiliar.  In struggling to progress in this new territory, I had to sharpen my awareness, and that meant fostering a new appreciation for ‘first thoughts,” a new willingness to say ‘Yes’ to myself.

There’s more to this, but for the moment I’ll refer the reader to Chris Zydel.  This fabulous woman was recently interviewed at the Creativity Portal, where I was first introduced to her magic.  Chris is an expert in the art of allowing, and has liberated a ton of students who have learned at her workshops how to open the hand of their thought.  This is vitally important work, and I congratulate Chris for her significant contribution to our collective evolution!

Monday morning – Got Rhythm?

Returning again to the theme of the rhythmic nature of life, I’m reminded of a quote from the mother of a cancer patient.  After a series of expert counseling sessions, she said, “I realize that nothing needs to be fixed.”   So much anxiety is produced as we try to fix the world.  There’s certainly a great deal we’d like to fix.  But unless it’s riding on the flow of universal rhythms, our effort is generally in vain.

The development of personal creativity is also most effiicient when it’s done in cooperation with perceived cycles and rhythms.  If approached from the standpoint of discovery, creativity willingly blossoms.  It won’t work to force creative response; you’ll only end up dissatisfied if you try to be creative.  The only approach that really works is to continuously open up, and let your innate creativity perform its magic.

With thorough understanding of this concept, creativity becomes your guide and companion, and is no longer a challenge to be overcome. Your creative progress is one of constant allowing, in great humility. Indeed it is those moments when your control slips, when you’re unsure and confused, when you seem to be a leaf at the wind’s mercy, that set you up for the greatest creative growth.

I hope these words may be of some comfort and encouragement during the challenge of your Monday. Coming out of the weekend, our workaday world can seem overwhelming. If you relax your hold and watch its rhythms with great objectivity, your creative responses will multiply, carrying you with joy and excitement through the week.